Friday, May 27, 2016

52) Setting up camp at Tacloban--Oct. 28th, 1944

Tacloban, Cancaboto Bay, Leyte, Philippines
APO 72 Leyte, Philippines

Somewhere in the Philippines
October 28th 1944


I guess this letter will explain my not writing for the past two weeks. We had a nice smooth trip up here on an LST. I guess you have read about them. The landing was pretty easy and the people sure were over-joyed to see us. The last letter I wrote you was written on board the ship and taken off in a small boat. We have really been seeing the air battles lately. We saw several Nip planes shot down. Just like the NewsReels you see back home. Only much better.

I hope by this time you have receive the money I sent. Let me know as soon as you get it.

I suppose that by now you are all settled in school and doing nicely. We are supposed to get a big bunch of mail some time today and I sure hope there are some letters from you. I haven’t had any mail in two weeks. Speaking of mail and letters I might as well tell you my new APO number is 72. The rest of the address remains the same.

Our temporary camp is in a nice coconut grove. It is really shady every place but the place I picked to type out this. The sun is getting so hot I think I will move.

Our pilots have really been going to town on this business of shooting down planes. I am happy to say that we are once again in the lead with 214 and the boys haven’t slowed down a bit. Sure is good to be in a top outfit.

Darling I think I will let this sit till I get the mail that is coming to me then I will finish it.

Next day—I am unable to get the use of the typewriter this morning so I will just continue on another piece of paper.

Darling I received 3 letters from you today, 1 Oct. 5th and two Oct. 12th. Boy! Did I enjoy the pictures, that makes 5 pictures I have of you. Still isn’t enough though.

Some of the fellows just outside the tent are digging a well for water to wash clothes with & for showers. They are sinking gas drums in the ground. The ground here is different from any we have run across so far in this part of the world. You can go down from 4 to 10 feet and you have a well. Isn’t so good when you want a dry fox hole though. They have two barrels in the ground now and water already. Guess I will have to find time to dig one for our tent. We really have been very busy here lately. I was on guard duty last nite and didn’t have to work this morning.

The people over here are really civilized compared to the natives in New Guinea & The Netherlands East Indies. Three out of four speak enough English so that you can understand them & most all of them understand us.

Next time you see Bob tell him I am sure glad to hear that he finally got his license. Hope you get a chance to fly with him.

I have enclosed some pictures we took on our trip to Australia. I have numbered them and will list on another sheet just what each one is. Some of them were 35mm and are very small but better than nothing.

1) This is the little motor train they run between two towns in Australia. We called it the Toonerville Trolley

2) Beer Call at one of the local Pubs. They sell beer only twice a day

3) This is Lt. Pienezza and myself taken on the airfield down in Australia the day we arrived. This is the fellow who is directly over me. He is from Alabama

4) This shot is of the trip down flying across the Owen Stanleys. That body on the cot is yours truly. It gets cold at that altitude!

5) Lunch while crossing the Coral Sea. That’s an apple in my hand. We took this on the return trip. No apples to eat going down.

6) The railroad station in the little town we went to.

7) One of the main streets. Notice the air raid shelters behind the man on the bike.

8) Guess you can tell the bird easily but the little fellow on the left is a Wallaby

9) Close up of the same Wallaby

10) One of twenty fours that I happened to see

11) Yours truly the little fellow not the skull

12) Main thing of interest on this are the –“No your wrong” I mean the autographs

Well darling I will have to close this for now and I will write again as soon as I can.

Honey remember that I love you so much that nothing will ever be ok till I can be with you. I want to get out of the Army as soon as I can and get back to you so we can spend all our time with each other like we should have done before.
Yours till the end of time,

I was only able to locate 3 of the photos that Jack mentions in the letter
"Yours truly, the little fellow, not the skull"

"One of the twenty fours that I happened to see"

"Guess you can tell the bird easily, but the little fellow on the left is a Wallaby"

  1. B-24 Liberator photos---The two aircraft photos Jack enclosed in this letter are of B-24 Liberator bombers. Identified by the artwork, they both belong to the 90th Bomb Group of the 400th Bomb Squadron, nicknamed the "Jolly Rogers."
  2. Ralph Loftin account of Leyte Landing---One of Jack’s friends and fellow airmen, Ralph Loftin, described the landing at Leyte, just two days after the island was invaded by the Allies, as the most exciting part of his three years of service in WW 2. “They were still having a naval battle and were still shooting at each other,” he said. “Kamikaze pilots were heading for the ships constantly.” “The fellows and I were ducking down all the time. We were seeing four of five Japanese planes falling at a time.” Loftin also got to see Gen. MacArthur who came over to watch the men laying down metal planking along the beach on Leyte. -“Statesville man spent 23 years of his life in the military”, by Donna Swicegood, Statesville Record and Landmark, Dec. 24, 2005. 
  3. Pilot Richard Kirkland account of landing at the Tacloban Airfield--- When 9th FS pilot Richard Kirkland arrived on the 27th he said that the sight was unlike anything he had ever seen in all his years of combat in the Pacific. There were ships of every kind and some were still smoking from being hit by kamikaze attacks. Kirkland writes, “Dozens of landing craft (LST) lined the beach, which was bristling with antiaircraft guns. Looking inland, I saw the smoke of artillery fire, the flash of exploding shells and billowing columns of smoke. The palm trees along the beach had been shredded, and the entire area looked as though a tornado had struck it.” The pilots asked for clearance to land but were told that the airfield was closed, because it was filled with crashed Navy fighter planes. When their carrier had sunk the Navy planes had tried to land on the Tacloban strip, which was basically a field of mud and had crashed. The 9th pilots didn’t have enough fuel to go back to any other airfield so the commanding pilot told the ground crews to bulldoze off the Navy planes and make room for them to land, which they did. And the 9th pilots landed on the short 1500 ft. of PSP (pierced steel plank) that the ground crews had gotten down. That was about 700 ft. short of what was officially required for a P-38 but all the planes landed safely. from: “Terrors of Tacloban”, by Richard C. Kirkland, Flight Journal, Air Age Publishing, Summer 2003

Friday, May 20, 2016

51) The 9th on the move to Leyte, Philippines---Background and Context

Battle of Leyte Gulf (Oct. 23- Oct. 26, 1944)

  • In terms of total tonnage of ships involved, this was the largest naval battle in history. The Allied forces plan was to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese by first invading the island of Leyte. 
  • Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the SW Pacific Area, had been ordered to leave the Philippines in 1942 when the Japanese forces had taken hold of much of the country. He famously vowed that he would return. 
  • This battle was a key strategic move for the Allies because the Philippines was an important source of oil for Japan and also because the air forces that Japan had amassed there posed a significant threat to the Allies across the Pacific. 
  • The Japanese were tremendously defeated, losing 3 battleships, 4 carriers, 10 cruisers, 11 destroyers and 500 carrier and land based aircraft. It was during this battle that the Japanese first unleashed their new form of attack, the "kamikaze" (suicide pilot). These planes, loaded with explosives and fuel, would crash into Allied warships in an attempt to severely damage or destroy their target.
Link to video of MacArthur's vow to return
Link to Battle of Leyte Gulf Video
Link to Newsreel showing MacArthur's return to the Philippines  

General MacArthur coming on to Red Beach near Palo, just south of Tacloban, Philippines, October 1944

9th FS Unit History-October 1944  

(The following account is From Ken Clark’s Unit History posted on, with some additional annotations by M. Davy)

On 13 October LST No. 610, which our squadron was to use for the move, arrived safely at Bosnek (Bosnek Beach, Southern edge of Biak Island). All during the nights of 14 and 15 October our ship cruised up and down off Biak Island, as the deep water prevented anchoring. During the day, 5 more LST's joined the convoy of 3 ships carrying the 49th Fighter Group, making a total of eight. At 1700 we got underway to Hollandia where the big convoy was to form. While floating offshore, we were electrified to hear that our pilots had once more engaged the enemy at Balikpapen and had shot down 11 enemy planes as well as probably destroying 3 more, with all of our planes and pilots returning intact. By this feat the 9th passed the rival 80th Fighter Squadron that had taken the lead in the SWPA, and once more the 9th was champion.

Balikpapen was Located on the southeast coast of Borneo.  On October 10, 1944
 B-24s struck oil refineries and an airfield in the Balikpapan area; the B-24s and escorting P-47s and P-38s claimed 30+ Japanese fighters downed. 
Link to painting and description of this operation: Balikpapan, Borneo- 10/10/1944

Early on October 18 our convoy, by now over 75 ships, left Hollandia bound for the Philippine Islands. After we were a couple of days out, Troop Commander Capt. Knight informed the 9th Squadron and the 49th Group Headquarters (also on board) that our destination was Tacloban, principal city of Leyte, one of the Visayan group in the Philippines.

"D" day was set for 20 October, and our squadron was scheduled to debark on D plus 4 (Oct. 24th), to work out of Tacloban Airdrome. Capt. J. Spence, 9th Intelligence Officer, gave a security and general orientation lecture immediately following. Four days from our destination it was announced over the radio that the landing had taken place successfully on schedule and that General Douglas MacArthur had arrived to assume command. Two days later came the welcome news that both the city of Tacloban and the airfield had been captured by our forces.

The 24th of October was one never to be forgotten by personnel of the 9th. Before dawn star shells were seen dead ahead, lighting up the Jap positions. At 0800 our convoy reached San Pedro Bay and all seemed serene and peaceful. A native canoe raced alongside containing happy Filipinos, laughing and gesticulating. The harbor was filled with ships, a most impressive display of allied might. About 0830, 'battle stations' was sounded and things began to happen. We realized then the thought provoking fact that this was not a peaceful trip into hostile shores. Just ahead of LST 610 (which was, by the way, the flagship of the convoy - most fitting for the leading fighter squadron) a Jap fighter plane was seen falling in flames. Out of a large cumulus cloud came a Jap Betty bomber, also burning. It dived straight down and crashed into the bay.
Mitsubishi G3M bomber- "Betty Bomber"
Over the hills ahead of our ship a large formation of enemy planes was being engaged by our Navy fighters. In the space of a few seconds, four Jap bombers came plunging down in flames in rapid succession. One hit the side of the hill,exploded, and rolled down the hillside, a spectacular ball of fire. During this time the men aboard were shouting and cheering, giving little thought to personal danger.

A Sally bomber soon brought grim realization of the fact that LST 610 was also a target. One could hardly refrain from recalling that the colloquial nickname of 'Long Slow Target' was peculiarly apt. The Sally commenced its bombing run toward our ship. The anti-aircraft barrage was terrific, and the Sally was forced to veer to the right. It burst into flames and crashed into the side of a converted gun boat (LCI), which began to burn furiously. This was our first experience of seeing the famous Jap suicide dive.
Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally Bomber"
Our LST reached shore safely at 0900, but could not get close enough for unloading purposes. It was necessary to construct a jetty in order to unload the vessel. With the help of a bull-dozer and some native made sand bags a very credible job was done, making it possible for unloading to begin at 1600. During this time there was a continuous red alert and several bombing runs by solitary Jap planes were seen. 

Bulldozers created causeways from the beach to each LST so that supplies could be unloaded.
First on the program upon arrival at our new campsite at about 1630 October 24, was digging slit trenches and erecting tents. It was well that the trenches were available, as there were several raids that night with the airdrome and harbor receiving most of the attention. 

During the day enemy planes came over regularly, surprisingly tenacious in their attempts to destroy shipping. In the night there were constant red alerts and bombings. A gasoline dump on the beach was hit making a most spectacular fire that lasted for hours, thoroughly illuminating several targets. For some reason the Japs took no advantage of this. 

Our 155mm howitzers shelled Jap positions during the nights of October 25-26, and this, combined with air raids made sleep impossible. 

The following day, 26 October, we were raided 20 separate times by enemy formations of various sizes. The Commanding General ordered the Tacloban strip laid with steel matting, to be completed within three days. To do this, 32 enlisted men and several officers from the 9th were drafted to assist. They worked feverishly and the work progressed excellently. 

Steel matting used to construct a landing strip at Tacloban
The P-38's of the 9th Fighter Squadron arrived October 27 in a blaze of glory. Cheers echoed throughout the area when the first land-based planes to return to the Philippines soared majestically overhead. Among the welcoming party were Generals MacArthur and Kenney, who congratulated the Group Commander upon arrival. The 9th squadron was refueled and at once went on patrol. Before the day ended, six enemy planes were definitely destroyed and one probably destroyed. Major Gerald Johnson shot down two enemy planes and Major Bong, Col. R. Morrissey (flying with the 9th), Lts. A. Hufford and B. Krankowitz destroyed one each. Lt. Krankowitz also got a probable.

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning-THE aircraft of the 9th squadron.

Link to a video about the P-38

During the night there were countless raids and alerts, making it impossible to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. 

October 28th the unit had several patrols and 2 dive-bombing missions over Ormoc (city on the west side of the island). During the night and early the next morning there were only 3 raids, so everyone was able to have the most restful night to date.

Three Zekes made a surprise raid at 0745 on our strip. Although a red alert was on, the crew chiefs remained loyally with their planes, getting them ready for flight. Despite the alert the raid was a complete surprise, as the enemy evidently sneaked in low over the hills. S/Sgt. J. Hedgepath, one of our oldest and most highly regarded men, was fatally wounded while at the side of his plane. Seven of our planes were damaged by the strafers. 

Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" was a long-range fighter aircraft.  The official Allied reporting name was "Zeke."
The main road from the strip to camp was washed out, and it was necessary to use Cancabato Bay by LCM or take the long road by the beach and down towards Palo to reach our strip. There were snipers active at sporadic intervals on the road, but no casualties were suffered. To add to the confusion caused by communication problems we were warned by the Navy that a 50-knot wind was expected. A fierce wind did blow all night, and several tents in camp blew down.

30 October was the quietest day to date, with no raids during the day. It is thought that the typhoon was as much to the enemy's disadvantages as to our own.

31 October made up the excitement missing the day before. To start the day wrong, they shot down a P-38 from the 7th squadron while it was landing. There was a strafing raid in progress, but that was a scant excuse for the tragic incident. Just at dusk that night, 3 Vals made a surprise strafing and bombing raid hitting our strip with four bombs. Shrapnel from one blast struck 9th C.O. Major R. McComsey, who was in a nearby jeep, seriously wounding him and causing his subsequent evacuation. 

Archie D3A- Allied reporting name "Val" was a carrier-borne dive bomber used by the Japanese Navy.
There was no warning whatsoever of the presence of enemy planes, and the Major had no time to take cover. None of the Vals escaped as the "ack ack" (anti-aircraft fire) destroyed one, and two of our newer pilots each got one - their first kills. The destruction of the enemy was little consolation for the loss of our commander, from whom the squadron had expected big things. His leaving the scene will be a definite loss to the unit.

P-38 after a Japanese raid on the Tacloban airstrip
It seems in order to summarize the situation and physical features of this move into the Philippines. Everyone felt it was an honor to be the first unit based there. Filipinos made the "V" for Victory sign and shouted 'Victory' whenever one passed. Being in a community with vestiges of civilization was a relief after the jungles of New Guinea and the barrenness of Biak Island. Seeing and hearing the voices of children and the crowing of roosters brought touches of nostalgia to men who had been away from home over 34 months.

Our campsite was about 4 miles from the strip, Tacloban Airdrome, on Cataisan Point, a narrow strip of land shielding Tacloban township from San Pedro Bay. To reach the camp one headed toward the town along the shore of Cancabato Bay - formed by Cataisan Point. Our camp was located in a coconut grove, and several Filipino families lived nearby. The mosquitoes were a distinct annoyance, but one consoling fact was the comparative absence of malaria, there being a low incidence of the disease here. Leyte Island is approximately 115 miles long by 15 miles wide at its narrowest point, with an average width of 40 miles.

The town of Tacloban is the capital of Leyte Province and the only sizable port; it is about 30,000 population. A good all-weather road runs along the east coast, but the road from the strip to our camp soon became impassable, making the use of LCMs necessary to cross Cancabato Bay. Before the month ended the squadron was settled as comfortably as could be expected in what was intended to be a temporary encampment. We hoped the coming month would see us permanently settled in our new area.

Back to the letters in the next blog post.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

50) "I want to be my own boss" --Oct. 16, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea- Schouten Islands
Mokmer Airstrip

Monday nite 10:30
Oct. 16th ’44


Suddenly found time to write again. Things have been very busy for me the last few weeks. I haven’t stopped ever since I got back from Australia. I sure hope things calm down soon so I can write you more often. I received your letter with the little notes from Ann & Bob & Bill. I really enjoyed the notes from the gang. Tell Ann that now that I have proof that she can write I better hear from her once in a while.

I don’t get to listen to that good music anymore in the evening. I really wish that this war would get over with so I can come back and live my life like I want to. Believe me after this is over I am never going to work for anybody. I want to be my own boss. I hope things are so that this will come true. Sometimes it seems like it will be so long till I see you again. Then at other times it seems like it will come soon, very soon. I guess it is all in what mood I am in. I haven’t read any books lately. I have “Botany Bay” and several others to read as soon as I find time.

I suppose you will have started school by the time this gets to you. Be sure to write me all about the school and the teachers & the people in you class. I bet you will be very busy for a week or so at the beginning. I hope you like it. School is lots easier to put up with when you like the school and the people. Will any of the kids you went to High School with be going out there this year?

How are my folks getting along? Have you seen them lately? They sure do write swell things about you and Ann.

I hope by this time you have gotten my letter with the money order in it. Be sure to pick a nice present for my Grandmother.

Just curiosity, but I happened to be looking at that last picture you sent me. Tell me honey just what is that you are holding in your hands, and speaking of pictures when is the next one going to get here?

Have you been to any good football games yet? Sure would like to see one. Don’t think I could play any football after being in this climate so long.

Darling the time is getting very late and I have to write to Mom & Pop before I go to sleep so I’ll close at the end of this page.

Remember that I still love you and that my one ambition is to come back and see how happy we can be with each other. I feel sure that I will be home before my next birthday.

Remember me to your Mom & Ann & the Gang,

Always thinking of you,

  1. "I am never going to work for anybody"---After the war Jack did become his own boss.  When Jack returned he took over business operations that had been started by his grandfather Clarence Merriman, and run by his mother and aunt after Clarence's death at the beginning of the war.  At first this was primarily the Louisville Loan Company and managing commercial and residential properties purchased by Clarence.  Later Jack, in partnership with his mother and aunt, started the Jefferson Development company, building houses during the post-war boom.  The Jefferson Company evolved into a general remodeling contracting company.  In the early 1970s Jack, wanting to be even more his own boss, so he broke out on his own (separate from his mother and aunt) to form Jefferson Kitchens Inc., a remodeling firm that focused on kitchen and bath remodels.  
  2. Football---Jack had played on the Anchorage High Football team.  However, I never remember him following any sports when I was growing up.  My mother was quite a sports fan and loved to watch baseball (she was a Red's fan) and college basketball (U of L-- of course), but Dad never talked about or showed any interest in sports.
  3. Next Birthday---Jack didn't make it home before his next birthday.  When June 21, 1945  (his 21st birthday) rolled around he was still with the 9th Squadron in the South Pacific.
  4. Next Post---I'll focus on what has been happening with the War in the Pacific and specifically with 9th squadron during this time.  October 1944 was a busy and dangerous time for the 9th squadron, as they moved from Biak Island to Leyte in the Philippines.  Remember Jack was not allowed to write about where he was or what was going on with his squadron.  The next post will provide some insight as to what was going around him during this time. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

49) Jack sends Betty money to buy Christmas presents.-- Oct. 11, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea- Schouten Islands
Mokmer Airstrip

Oct. 11th, 44, 11:45 PM, “Pretty dark out”

This will have to be a short letter but I know you will understand the reason. I am really very busy here lately. I missed lunch today. You know that I’m busy when I miss a meal. I hope that in a week or so things will settle down and I can really write some long letters. Dearest you know that it is really hard for me to go many days with out mail from you. I got one letter (on that funny stationery) today. It was mailed Oct. 2nd. I really am held together by those letters you write. I wouldn’t last long if I didn’t get them. You seem to understand so many things. Have you been thinking about just what you want to do after I get back for good? Do you think we will be able to be happy together? I really do hope we can. I have really some wonderful plans and ideas I would like to tell you about but most of them will have to wait. Never could put it over on paper.

Sure am glad you get around to see the family so often. Guess you will really rate with them by the time I get back there. As if you don’t right now. Boy they think your tops and “I ain’t just kidding.” Remember though that I am the guy that really loves you. Don’t ya think so maybe?

Darling you have probably been thinking & wondering about the enclosed Money Order. Here’s what I want you to do. See that every body (that is Mom, Pop, DeeDee & My Grandmother) all get some Xmas present with my name on it. Let it be a surprise. Also get that cute little devil of a sister of yours something from me. If you have any cash left have a big bunch of flowers sent to mom on Xmas day. I know I can depend on you to pick out nice things. You might have to shop around some to find out just what each one can use. Get something nice for Pop, maybe a tie from A.l.Warner.

Well that is about all for this time. Don’t worry about my letters. I will write as often as I can get time. And if things get any worse I’ll take time off from sleeping to write. Rather write to you than sleep or eat.

Please excuse or forgive the short letter.

I remain yours till the very end of time.

Good night sweet,

Notes - Jack's Christmas List:
  1. "Mom"---Avery Merriman Riley, Jack's mother was 43 years old at this time.  She helped run the Louisville Loan Company, which had been started by her father, Clarence Merriman. She also helped manage various properties that had been owned by Clarence Merriman.  When Clarence died, just after Jack began his WWII service, these businesses were left in the hands of Avery, her sister Lillian and their mother Maude Sargent Merriman.
  2. "Pop"---Jack W. Riley, Sr., Jack's father was 49 years old at this time.  He and Avery lived at 127 Bonner Avenue during the war years.  I am unsure what his occupation was at this time.  Most of his life he was a salesman (furniture, bourbon, cars, etc.).
  3. "DeeDee"---Lillian Merriman was Jack's beloved aunt, the younger and only siblings of Avery.  At this time Lillian was divorced from her husband Robert G. Pitz, owner of the Pitz Foundry in New York (Link to info about Pitz Foundry).  Lillian and Robert Pitz had one son, "Bob" who was a few years younger then Jack.  I don't know where she was living at this time but perhaps in Louisville.
  4. "My Grandmother"---Maude Sargent Merriman, Jack's maternal grandmother was a 70 year old widow at this time.  She was born in Beallsville, PA and raised by her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh until her marriage to Clarence Merriman in 1900, at which time they moved to Louisville, KY.  In 1944 she was still helping to run The Louisville Loan Company, with her daughters, Avery and Lillian.

48) We made donuts.---October 3, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea- Schouten Islands
Mokmer Airstrip

Oct. 3, 44, 9:30 PM

I didn’t write last nite because we made donuts and when we were finished I was so very tired that all I could do was sleep. Even got up 45 min. late this morning.

We were supposed to get paid today but I didn’t sign the payroll last time. (Remember I went down south). As a result I will have to wait till next month. It really don’t matter much over here whether a fellow misses a month or not.

I got two letters & a newspaper from you. One letter was on that wild stationery. I sure am anxious to see the others. That one was mailed Sept. 18 & the other letter the 22nd.

Glad you all had such a nice dinner party for the folks. They sure did enjoy it. My folks sure do think you’re swell. Mom & Pop are really fond of you honey. That sure makes things swell for me.

Maybe if they keep talking about their boy Jack enough you will fall for him. Or did you. I hope I hope. Yes?? No kidding darling I really want to come back there and show you that I am sincere when I tell you that I love you with all my heart. I somehow know from your letters that you do trust me & believe (finally spelled it) in me. Seems as if you really under-stand how I came to feel that way. Maybe I felt that way about you down deep inside always but was just too dumb to realize it. Can’t really tell about that. But there is just one thing now and that is on my mind all the time. I want you & only you when I get back. I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over & over again. We will be able to make each other so very happy if you will say yes to the right questions at the right times. Honey do I have to draw a picture?

I am sitting here on the floor writing this and listening to the records coming over the PA system from the next outfit by wire. We still have music if not lights. I’m doing better than candles tonite. I have a gasoline lantern which gives off a swell light.

I went to the show tonite and saw “Bathing Beauty” with Red Skelton & Ester Williams. Harry James & Xavier Cugat were in the show also. It was a swell color picture. But then you have probably seen it already.

I really was busy today. We made 3 trips to the Quartermaster to get stuff. We handle the issue of cigarettes & tobacco through supply and when ever we issue them we are busy as a bunch of beavers.

I’ll bet Ann was really glad to get back to school. Ha! Ha! When do you start by the way? Why don’t you tell me what kind of course you plan to take and what subjects you will have? Guess there won’t be so many boys going to U of L this year.

Have you been to a football game yet? Where? Tell me about it. Gee! We will have to go to lots of them when I get back. Guess I won’t ever play football anymore but I sure do like to go and watch.

The moon is almost full now and believe me if it is as big and as pretty at home as it is out here then you had better stay at home till it goes down. Don’t want to take a chance on somebody working one of those smooth lines with you. Not in moonlite like that. Honestly I’m only kidding. Don’t you know it? Really could do some romancing with you here to share that moon with me. Or am I dreaming?

Well, I’ll say goodnite now and write a few lines to the folks before I go to bed.


Yours always,

  1. Army Quartermaster Corps---This is the U.S. Army's oldest logistics branch and was  established in 1775.  Their mission is to support the development, production, acquisition and sustainment of general supplies, materials to troops and also to handle mortuary affairs.  Click this link for more information about their role in WWII:  Army Quartermaster Museum Link
  2. Bathing Beauty---1944 musical which showcased competitive swimmer and actress Ester Williams.  Bathing Beauty wiki article
  3. RILY---Later in life Jack often added "YDLY"to his written notes/letters to me. It was an acronym for "Your Daddy Loves You."  Occasionally in these WWII letters both Jack and Betty use "RILY", likely an acronym.  Perhaps "Really In Love with You"??  Any other guesses?  Please comment with your thoughts.
  4. Army Pay During WWII---At this time Jack's rank was Corporal.  He would have been earning about $79.20 a month (base pay plus 20% added for foreign service).

Thursday, May 12, 2016

47) I dreamed that I was with you-wherever you are. --Sept. 14, 1944

From Betty (Louisville, KY)

Sept 14, 1944


Got your letter of Aug. 27 yesterday. I got the one you wrote Sept. 1 before this one. The mails are so crazy.

I just got back from a luncheon over at the Country Club. There were seven of us girls and we just had loads of fun.

I talked to your Mother last night. She had gotten a letter from you too. We had a beautiful time talking about some fellow by the name of Jack Riley. Do you know him? He’s really a swell person and I kinda like him. What do I mean kinda? Don’t mind me. I carry on like this all the time. You’ll get used to it after so long a time- I hope!

You wanted to know what Anne did to make your dad think she was so cute. Well, she was just acting crazy and cutting up as usual. She’s awful cute, but I never know what she’s going to say next. Sometimes it’s embarrassing.

I know I’ll love the picture frame. You’re making it and that’s enough to make me love it.

I don’t need a request to sent things after tomorrow. The Christmas mailing starts tomorrow. I’ll keep this request for use after the Christmas mailing stops. I’ll try to send you some nuts.

I think that’s interesting about your all listening to the Tokyo radio. At least they have good music. They couldn’t actually think you all believe that junk about the U.S. losing the war. They’re just crazy, but of course you already know that.

I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed that I was with you - wherever you are. It was all so odd. I am with you, honey, if only in thoughts. Some day soon, maybe I’ll be with you – really. I hope so. I’m looking forward to the day you come home. I’ve never seen you with your parents. I think it’ll be fun. Everybody will be so happy.

Bob is already in the Army. He has been inducted and has his serial number, rank, etc. He will be 18 Sunday. I don’t know how soon after that he’ll be called. He’ll be an Air Cadet. Hope he makes it O.K. He just loves flying.

Anne and I saw “Impatient Years” yesterday. It was just adorable. I enjoyed it thoroughly. See it if you have a chance when it comes over there. You all get swell pictures. It’s just amazing. You certainly deserve the best, though.

Mother is up and around today. She’s feeling much better. She has gone up to the doctor now. She’ll be back at work next week.

Anne starts to school Monday. From then on, I’ll be home alone most of the day. Guess I’ll do a lot of reading.

I like keeping house much better than working. I’m really enjoying it. I love to cook, as I believe I’ve said before. When you come home I can experiment on you. You’ll probably wish you hadn’t come home after that. Oh, well, I have to learn someday. I might as well let you suffer with it. Only joking you know.

Last night I went to bed at 8 o’clock. I was worn out. Today I’ve just felt wonderful. A good night’s sleep can do wonders for me.

I think maybe I’ll go in town tomorrow to see “Janie.” Every body says it’s so cute. It all depends on how Mother is.

I’ll probably go to bed early tonight too. Nothing else to do except read or maybe I’ll go up to the Crescent. “Gaslight” is there and I didn’t see it when it was in town. You said you saw it and it was good. I like Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton. He has the cutest wolfish expression. I don’t like wolves, though. They make me furious out at Ft. Knox when they start handing me the G.I. line. I wonder if they think the girls believe it. Some of them are dumb enough.

Excuse the writing. I’m writing on my lap and it doesn’t work any too well. Flushie is lying here snoring away. She leads an easy life. All she does is sleep and eat. Poor thing. She’s getting so old looking. Her face is all grey. You do remember her, don’t you? She’s our red cocker spaniel.

Guess that’s enough nonsense for now. Miss you loads.

Always yours,

  1. "Bob"-- Betty is referring to her 1st cousin Bob Giltner.  Even though she says in this letter that he was inducted, his enlistment record lists his enlistment date as March 6, 1945.  Maybe that was when he was "called up".  He served for about 6 months in 1945, then attended the University of Kentucky majoring in Agriculture and graduating in 1949.  He joined the Air Force in 1950 and became a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War.  In 1952 his aircraft crashed in a non-combat incident in Korea, resulting in his death.  Read more about him in one of my other blogs here:   Robert Hardin Giltner  and here: Update to Robert Hardin Giltner Story
  2. Movies Betty Mentions in this letter (links to more info)---The Impatient Years----Gaslight---Janie
  3. Crescent Theater---This theater was located at 2862 Frankfort Avenue in the Crescent Hill neighborhood of Louisville and was only about a half mile from Betty's house.  See more here:1927 photo of interior of Crescent and Crescent Theater exterior 1934
  4. Ft. Knox Dances---The Service Club sponsored the dances at Ft. Knox.  Girls would board buses in Louisville to be taken to the dances.  Ft. Knox was about 45 miles away.  Betty's mother Emma Allen often served as a chaperone.

Monday, May 9, 2016

46) Childish Anchorage boys crash the girl party--Sept. 13, 1944

From Betty (Louisville, KY)

Sept. 13, 1944
Wednesday A.M.


Got your letter of Sept. 1 yesterday. Your letters get over here in pretty good time now. How long does it take mine to go over?

I’m worn out this morning. I told you I was having six girls in for dinner last night. Anne and myself made eight. Well Mother got sick Monday night and was in bed all yesterday and will be today. The doctor gave her something to make her sleep so she slept all yesterday. I was left to do all the cooking, cleaning up, etc. for the party. It was the first time I had ever had to do anything like that. My grandmother came down about five-thirty to help me finish up. Gee I was glad to see her.

The dinner went off swell and everybody had a grand time. I’m really getting experience.

You know I took Home Nursing a couple of years ago and I didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know. Every time anybody in the house gets sick, they spring my Home Nursing on me. I’m glad I took it. It was a good course.

Anne and I have cleaned up the house this morning. It was the biggest mess. It looked like a cyclone had hit it.

Last night after we had finished dinner and were just sitting around talking, who should come but four of the boys up at Anchorage. They had had a stag dinner party and then came down to crash ours. I don’t think those dumb boys will ever grow up. They make me furious. They’re so childish.

Yes, I saw Johnny Mohr’s picture in Life a long time ago. His sister is one of my best friends.

Anne and I are going in town this afternoon to see “Impatient Years”. It should be pretty good. Last Friday night I saw “Christmas Holiday”, but I didn’t like it much. It was so odd.

Your letter yesterday had something cut out of it. You know where you usually write- Somewhere in the Southwest Pacific area? Well, I don’t know what you had written, but it was cut out except for the- Somewhere.

I talked to your mother yesterday. She read me your letter. You should have gone to see Bob Hope. I would love to see him. I think he’s a scream.

Guess I’d better go fix Mother some lunch after she eats she’ll sleep all afternoon and I’ll go in town, then.

Bye now honey. It can’t be much longer before you’ll be home. Miss you.

Always yours,

  1. Betty's grandmother--- the grandmother who came to help was probably Betty's maternal grandmother Nanine Fairleigh Hardin.  When Betty and Jack met, Betty, her sister and mother lived with Nanine-- along with Betty's cousins Bob and Bill Giltner.
  2. Johnny Mohr----he seems to be an Anchorage High sports star who later attended the University of Louisville.
  3. "Impatient Years"---1943 romance staring Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea.  Impatient Years Link